A group of 40 students and public radio station supporters rallied at Pacific Lutheran University Thursday to show support for radio station KPLU.
Standing on the steps of the Karen Hille Philips Center, they gathered to protest the sale of the station to the University of Washington. If the Federal Communications Commission approves the sale, KPLU will merge with Seattle-based KUOW.
Zoe Velie, a KPLU intern and PLU sociology student, organized the protest.
“I feel good that we did something that we care about,” Velie said after the 45-minute rally that started in the campus’s red square.
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After PLU business major Andrew Jensen read an open letter questioning the university’s motives for the sale, the students took a lap around the campus, holding signs and chanting slogans including “KPLU bet we’re mad” and “Not for sale.”
The students were joined by a handful of longtime KPLU listeners and supporters.
“I’m doing this because this is a part of my life all day, every day,” said Tacoma resident John Woltjer.
The self-employed contractor has listened to KPLU daily for 40 years, he said.
I’m doing this because this is a part of my life all day, every day.
John Woltjer, 40-year listener of KPLU
Like the students, Woltjer questioned the reason for the sale.
Some supporters speculated the university is looking to improve its financial position by selling the station for $8 million. PLU President Thomas Krise denied that claim in an open letter to the PLU community posted on the school’s website. He has said the transaction was approved after a careful analysis of public radio in the region and ways to preserve it as long as possible.
The fate of the station now rests with the FCC. Its review process could take three to six months.
Velie started an online petition urging the FCC to reject the sale on change.org. By Thursday, the petition was 20 people shy of reaching its goal of 500 supporters.
School spokeswoman Donna Gibbs said in an email Thursday that Krise was out of the town but would continue to “listen to the protesters’ concerns, and the president will continue to hold individual meetings and constructive forums for dialogue just as he has since the news was announced on Nov. 11.”